What drives morphological change?
A case study from the history of German
This paper investigates the role of syntactic, semantic, and lexical factors in the diachronic development of German nominalization patterns. Drawing on an extensive corpus analysis of Early New High German and New High German texts, it is shown that (a) deverbal nominals in the suffix -ung tend to develop more reified meaning variants, which is reflected in the syntactic patterns in which the word-formation products preferentially occur, and (b) infinitival nominalization becomes more productive and is established as the new default word-formation pattern deriving nouns from verbs. These considerations fit in neatly with a cognitively-oriented theory of word-formation change situated in the framework of Construction Grammar.